Revealed: Farnham puppy farm murders, police failings contributed to killings

Jurors listed five failings by Surrey Police that “more than minimally contributed” to the women’s deaths.

Christine Lee, 66, and Lucy Lee, 40, were killed by John Lowe, then 82, in Farnham in February 2014.

Jurors listed five failings by Surrey Police that “more than minimally contributed” to the women’s deaths.

Woking coroner’s court heard the firearm licensing department had failed to “sufficiently investigate”.

Police had confiscated Lowe’s shotgun, but it was handed back seven months before the killings , despite an allegation he had threatened to kill Lucy Lee’s sister with a gun in March 2013.

Lowe was convicted of murder in 2014 and jailed for life. He died in August 2018, aged 86.

The jury, which determined the pair had been unlawfully killed, said Surrey Police failed to have a system in place “to ensure that the decision whether or not to return a shotgun certificate and shotgun to a certificate holder following removal pending a criminal investigation was made or approved by a senior police officer”.

The force’s firearms licensing department failed to “investigate sufficiently” whether it was safe to return the shotguns to Lowe following the threat to kill allegation in March 2013, the jury said.

They also ruled the department failed to “consider all the evidence and information available to it” and failed “to apply the correct standard of proof” when deciding whether to revoke or return Lowe’s shotguns and licence.

The department also failed to recommend the revocation of Lowe’s shotgun licence in July 2013 and there was a consequential failure by Surrey Police to revoke the certificate, the jury ruled.

Ass Ch Con Jon Savell apologised for the failings, which he said Surrey Police had “already acknowledged”.

He said the force had commissioned two independent reports in 2014, which had “indicated the decision by firearms licensing officers to return weapons to John Lowe was flawed and did not meet national standards”.

He said: “We spoke with members of Christine and Lucy Lee’s family at that time to advise them of these findings and to apologise for that decision.”

He said the force had since improved its decision-making practices to “ensure public safety is maximised”.




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